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Japan’s Ichibata temple in Izumo holds ceremony for eyeglasses

(CNN) — You wouldn’t say goodbye to a friend by simply throwing them away, so why do the same with your possessions, especially the ones that have made your life better?

That is one of the ideas behind a temple blessing ceremony for eyeglasses that was held at Japan‘s Ichibata temple in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, about 180 km (112 miles) from the city of Hiroshima.
According to Japan Today, the temple holds the service every year on November 8 as a way for people to “show gratitude to their glasses for their years of service” before disposing of them.
ichibata temple japan

A Buddhist monk blesses pairs of glasses.

Kyodo News/Getty

Ichibata Temple is known as a place where people come to pray for vision-related problems and eye diseases, which led to the creation of the glasses farewell ceremony.

The temple, which dates to the year 894, is dedicated to Yakushi Nyorai, sometimes called “the medicine Buddha” for his connection to health and healing.

In sculptures, he is usually depicted holding a “medicine pot” in his left hand.

Because of this, Ichibata Temple is sometimes referred to as “the Lourdes of the eyes,” a reference to the French town where pilgrims travel from around the world in search of healing.

People discard their glasses for a number of reasons — sometimes, they have a different prescription and have to get a new pair despite the old one being in good condition.

Following the ceremony, the usable glasses are donated to a group in India that gives spectacles to people who can’t afford them.

This year, 200 pairs were collected.

Beyond Ichibata Temple, Izumo is famed for being home to Izumo Taisha, the country’s oldest Shinto shrine. Shimane Prefecture is also beloved for its soba (buckwheat) noodles, which many consider the best in Japan.


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